Album: Another Realm

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More Details > Another Realm Not Available by Iona Released in 2011 CD: Not Available Download*: £9.99 *available in raw AIF & MP3 formats Almost 5 years after the release of IONA's last studio album 'The Circling Hour', the band's latest opus 'Another Realm' is now available. Over a year in the making, this is the band's first double CD studio album, with over 95 minutes of brand new, original music! The band has expressed that in some ways this album is like a new beginning and a renewing of that original vision which first inspired the formation of . With some incredible new songs, both epic and intimate instrumental sections, stunning vocals from a newly impassioned Joanne Hogg, and introducing new band member Martin Nolan on pipes and whistles, 'Another Realm' will take you on a journey that will deeply touch and inspire. PERSONNEL:
Joanne Hogg - vocals / vocal loops / piano / keyboard / beer shaker
Dave Bainbridge - electric & acoustic guitars, bouzouki, piano, keyboards, autoharp, beer shaker
Frank Van Essen - drums, percussion, violins, violas, electric violin, vocals, glockenspiel, keyboard
Phil Barker - bass guitar, electric upright bass
Martin Nolan - uilleann pipes, low whistles, tin whistles, vocals

PRODUCED BY: Dave Bainbridge

Album Photo Gallery
 / 2011  / 2011  / 2011  / 2011  / 2011  / 2011  / 2011 by Tim Martindale / 2011  / 2011  / 2011 Joanne recording vocals during the 'Another Realm' sessions at Dave's studio with AMS Soundfield mic (left) and AT4033 mic (right) / 2010
Photos by Frank Van Essen, Dave Bainbridge & Heather Armstrong
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Videos (2):
'Another Realm' Official Promo (Summary Version)
'Another Realm' Official Promo (Long Version)
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Avg: 9.5Reviews (9)
Mon, 9 April 2012
No rating
Another excellent, beguiling listen from Iona. Progressive Celtic rock band Iona contains members from diverse backgrounds, but whose common link l...
Review:  Rocktopia / Paul Jerome Smith
Mon, 9 April 2012
Another excellent, beguiling listen from Iona.

Progressive Celtic rock band Iona contains members from diverse backgrounds, but whose common link lies in their strong Christian beliefs. The band formed in the late 1980s, the current quintet being completed by the addition of multi-instrumentalist Martin Nolan who replaced the very well-known, and frequent CRS award-winning Troy Donockley in 2009. The others are vocalist/keyboardist Joanne Hogg, guitarist Dave Bainbridge, Frank van Essen on drums, percussion, strings, glockenspiel et al and bassist Phil Barker. The present studio album - their first since 2006's 'The Circling Hour' is a 96 minute double CD that I am tempted to describe as "business as usual"

Ethereal, quirky, spiritual, multi-layered, textured chill-out Prog with magnificent, haunting female vocals all couched in a Celtic framework comprises what I mean by business as usual in the context of Iona. Their music rarely reaches the pace of a gallop and yet there is plenty to edify and entertain even the most casual of listener. There is always something intriguing going on within the layers of harmonic and yet varied instrumentation and/or vocal arrangements. And there, dear Fireworks reader, is where the charm of an Iona album rests. Book-ended by 'As It Was' and 'As It Shall Be' (a paean to the island that gives the band its name, and based upon a six century prophecy) this body of material really brings to the fore is just how accomplished the five musicians are with their various instruments. I thought I might have noticed the transition of player in the pipes and whistles department for instance, but nothing could be further from the truth and Nolan is a hugely accomplished replacement for Donockley. I would also like to focus upon drummer/percussionist van Essen and the supreme way in which he uses his kit and extended array of tom toms to enrich and embellish the overall tone and timbre of the performances.

'The Ancient Wells' immediately brings this to attention, a song that builds and builds to a climax. The title track is a wistful song heavily reminiscent of Clannad while 'Clouds' is another of varying intensity and complexity with swirling arrangement. The lengthy, three-part 'An Atmosphere Of Miracles' is an attention-grabbing epic while closing song on CD1 'Let Your Glory Fall' is a wonderful song, more up-tempo than the others although lyrically quite repetitive.

The second disc begins with the moody, atmospheric instrumental 'Ruach'. 'Speak To Me' is a beautiful ballad, this and the subsequent mid-tempo song 'And The Angels Dance' really highlighting what wonderfully clear, emotive, vocals Hogg has sprinkled across the album. 'Foreign Soil' is an understated song, while instrumental 'Let The Waters Flow' contrasts as one of the livelier tracks! 'Saviour' is the most off-beat offering and is followed by the startling and strange instrumental 'The Fearless Ones' with Shofars played by guest musician Wytze Valkema. Finally there's the momentous mini-epic 'The White Horse'.

'Another Realm' is a wonderful album of its type and comes strongly recommended.
Wed, 7 September 2011
Iona's seventh and latest studio effort is a double-disc musical extravaganza that plunges headlong into a fresh world of spiritual depth and experien...
Wed, 7 September 2011
Iona's seventh and latest studio effort is a double-disc musical extravaganza that plunges headlong into a fresh world of spiritual depth and experience, aptly titled Another Realm. With over two decades of creative and beautiful Celtic-infused progressive rock, Iona has consistently explored deep themes of faith, with esoteric lyrics about misty British islands, adventurous Celtic monks, ancient hand-illuminated manuscripts, and holy prayers. Such topics have been musically intermixed with pounding odd-time rhythms, spacey synths, blistering guitar solos, woodwinds, pipes and whistles, and punctuated by lead singer Joanne Hogg's gorgeous, ethereal voice. This album stays true to the musical formula, this time with a fresh worship-oriented theme of spiritual awakening and revival. This is a record that is on such a deep spiritual level of healing and renewal that it demands active participation rather than passive listening. It is by far their most ambitious record, being a double disc of nearly 100 minutes that is much more than a concept album. I am happy to say it ranks up with their very best, which is saying a lot considering the masterpieces they have created previously such as Beyond These Shores, The Book of Kells, and Journey into the Morn.

Dave Bainbridge (guitars and keyboards) and Joanne Hogg (vocals) have been the band's fixtures over the years, and they are joined once again by Frank Van Essen (drums, violin) and bassist Phil Barker. Martin Nolan makes his first appearance on whistles and Uilleann pipes. Unfazed with the departure of the exceptionally talented Troy Donockley, the band seems unified in faith and purpose once again, and the fervor to pursue and behold God spreads like revival fire throughout the record. Lyrically, Another Realm falls unabashedly into a category that some call "prophetic worship", vertical songs that draw the listener into the presence of God and, like a holy arsonist, spark raging fires of faith for the supernatural and hunger for Him. It is not casual music, but rather something seemingly unearthed from the ancient wells of holy monks of old, meant to be drunk deeply and solemnly even as the heady holy water quenches spiritual thirsts and inspires a joyous dance of celebration and victory.

From the opening track, As it Was, that evokes their 1990 self-titled debut, the record draws the listener into a powerful place of reverence, with a grand respect for the past and their spiritual heritage, to delving into the fresh wind of the Spirit, hoisting sails for new horizons and deeper revelations. The Ancient Wells gives homage to the spiritual fathers of the UK, people like the great Saint Patrick, and what they achieved, proclaiming gladly that the ancient wells will be open once again, the river of the Holy Spirit flowing, and revival spreading throughout the land. The first CD is a barrage of epic tracks. The title track speaks of concept of the open heaven, when through intercession and sanctification barriers between heaven and earth come down and the glory of God manifests. The song Clouds speaks of powerful things stirring in the heavenly realms, and musically the song soars with heart-wrenching power. An Atmosphere of Miracles proclaims immediately, "Our King is here with us!" and if you've ever prayed for a true miracle from God in your life, or need to, this is the soundtrack. The hair on my neck stands up every time I listen to it, so gorgeous and healing are the melodies. Joanne has never sounded so heavenly as on this 15 minute ethereal epic, flowing like a river of music that meanders for a while then occasionally plunges over deep waterfalls on its way to the sea. Let Your Glory Fall concludes Disc 1, another powerful, progressive, worshipful track inviting the Holy Spirit to pour out and transform.

Disc 2 opens with a breathtaking violin instrumental from Frank Van Essen. Speak to Me is next, listing all the ways God speaks to us through his creation with a backdrop of acoustic guitar and Uilleann pipes. And the Angels Dance follows, picking up the tempo with a poppier feel that makes the song a candidate for a single, even as the second half of the song kicks into a rhythmic reel with the Uilleann pipes. Foreign Soil speaks of God's ability to reach us wherever we travel. There is no escaping the height and breadth and width and depth of his love for us. One of the coolest tracks (and they are ALL good) Let the Waters Flow follows, and the pounding drums and guitar remind me of a favorite section within the Book of Kells , which then morphs into the melody from Ancient Wells even as the song left turns into a fiery Bainbridge guitar solo. The more subdued Saviour speaks of the hell on earth and our need for Christ, praying for deliverance, and the space of the song allows Joanne's voice to shine. The mostly instrumental The Fearless Ones features the Jewish battle horn, the Shofar, setting the stage for the records most epic, most progressive track, the 11 minute White Horse. Pounding out a drum rhythm like horses hooves, the song gallops forth into the fray. Keep your eyes on the standard of the cross, hold your sword up high, follow the King on his White Horse, see His glory. Joanne's voice passionately pleads for you to open your eyes and see Him as He truly is, our King who battles for us. Surely heaven sings along with her whenever this song is played. The finale, As it Shall Be, is a reprise of the opening track, again evoking the beginning and end of their debut album, the Iona of our hearts.

If Iona never releases another album, Another Realm is a fitting capstone on their career, surely the pinnacle thus far of their creative talents. Unless you are easily offended by spiritual music, you cannot listen to the record without being moved within, drawn into the presence of the King, stirred with a longing for a deeper personal experience with your creator. As Christian artists, Iona have achieved something few other Christian albums have done. This isn't so much of a record as it is a statement, a proclamation, a holy standard raised, the soundtrack to spiritual warfare, like a sword that cuts through darkness and reveals the brightness of God's goodness lurking just above the clouds. We all know it is up there, perhaps, but Iona has enabled us to get a true glimpse into Another Realm where heaven invades earth. Five out of five stars.
Sat, 3 September 2011
No rating
Another Realm is an excellent double album, full of everything that makes Iona such an exciting band. To call it progressive rock doesn't do justice t...
Review:  Glasswerk National
Sat, 3 September 2011
Another Realm is an excellent double album, full of everything that makes Iona such an exciting band. To call it progressive rock doesn't do justice to the wide range of instruments played to a high standard throughout or to the hypnotic rhythms that underpin much of the music. The potent mix of rock and folk, with elements of gospel thrown in, provides variety and excitement in equal measures.

Much of the lyrical content is based around Christian mythology with references from St Patrick right through to Revelations, many of which are explained in the detailed linear notes that form part of a well packaged product. But you don't need to be a believer to feel the inspiring and uplifting emotions that are evoked.

The first disc features The Ancient Wells, an epic, seven minute track that tells of places where the veil between heaven and earth is thin. Singer Jo Hogg is on top form here, her voice serene and clear over a heavy beat. The song also features some fine guitar work from Dave Bainbridge while Martin Nolan plays the uilleann pipes, the Irish version of bagpipes.

An Atmosphere of Miracles is a fifteen minute piece in three parts with a complexity that sees it rise and fall, from acoustic guitar to an atmospheric keyboard driven section with Hogg singing in what sounds like Gaelic in the background. Perhaps it is a little long but there is space for it on a double album.

The highlights from the second cd include the instrumental Ruach. The dark and atmospheric track has a Middle Eastern feel, with drummer Frank van Essen playing violin over the keyboards.

The Angels Dance is a much lighter song than most on the album. It has a pop like rhythm and the vocals are ethereal and joyous, while a tin whistle weaves its way between the lyrics. This perhaps typifies Iona's musical approach of traditional meets modern, and it develops into a full blown jig at the end.

White Horse, the penultimate track, is my favourite from the fifteen provided. It feels like a rock song, vibrant and full of heavily sustained guitar and pounding drums. It also features a strong bass line from Phil Barker. The imagery comes from Revelations, telling of the final battle and the last victory. This one worked tremendously well as a live track when I saw Iona play recently.

Another Realm is a big album with great scope and features many fine songs. Iona have been around for over twenty years and used all of the craft and skill they have built up to produce such a fine musical experience. It may not be one for the mainstream charts but those who fancy something just a bit different won't be disappointed.
Tue, 16 August 2011
Iona is a UK band that started back in 1988, with inspiration from the spiritual history of Iona, a small island off the western coast of Scotland. Th...
Review:  Sea of Tranquility
Tue, 16 August 2011
Iona is a UK band that started back in 1988, with inspiration from the spiritual history of Iona, a small island off the western coast of Scotland. The band was founded by Dave Bainbridge, who plays guitars, keyboards, bouzouki and takes care of programming. Dave is joined by Phil Barker, on fretted and fretless bass; Joanne Hogg, on lead vocals, piano, and keyboards; Martin Nolan, on Uilleann Pipes, low and tin whistles; and Frank Van Essen, on drums, percussion, violins, and backing vocals.

I was fortunate enough to review Iona's 'Live in London' CD set and became a fan of the band overnight through that introduction. So when I heard they were about to release a new double CD studio project I wanted to have a chance to review it. Let me tell you this is one of the best albums of the year. The amount of inspiration wrapped within the lyrics, the slow quiet melodies and sounds of this historic land, with an eye to the future, are brought to life and celebrated in the music delivered within this masterpiece. The instrumentation is at the highest level and the lyrics will help lift you any time of year, but are especially important now with all of the negative news in the world.

If you enjoyed Iona's music from the past this new album builds upon the excellent discography they have created. If you are new to Iona's music you will discover one of the best inspirational bands in the world delivering one of this year's most well developed inspirational and entertaining albums. As good on headphones in the morning as it is in the car travelling.

Track Listing:

CD 1

'As It Was' opens with Hogg singing "Iona of my heart...for Iona shall it was", set to beautiful keys, soft acoustic and electric guitar. A soft tranquil opening to this incredible masterpiece of epic spiritual prog.

Then the Uilleann pipes and soft keys mixed with soft drumming signal the opening of 'The Ancient Wells'. Hogg sings, "Let us climb this hill in the footsteps of Patrick...That your river will flow and this land will be cleansed", set to the pipes and a jig - like beat with drums and guitars churning out a happy melody. We're underway, let the dance of life begin.

'Another Realm' opens with more beautiful, soft sounds from Hogg's voice, supported by drums, acoustic guitar and pipes. Hogg sings, "A heart that yearns and calls out for more. And heaven's portals open to the sound". A good danceable melody ensues and brings happiness to the overall production. Hogg sings the powerful central message and theme of the album written well within this title track, "A realm of miracles and wonders. It is for us if we dare".

'Clouds' opens with beautiful piano and Hogg singing, "Oh have you seen the clouds?" As a fellow cloud gazer, this is one of my favorite tracks. The beautiful keys, supported well with drums, bass, and electric and acoustic guitar, with the violin adding that extra dynamic to the sound to lift it even higher. The lifting electric guitar and closing acoustic guitar are just fantastic, and they, along with the power of the drums make this an early highlight off the album.

Hogg's echoing vocals sounds, "Our King is here with us", set to the background sound of pipes and keys as if in a dream or a fog gets, 'An Atmosphere of Miracles' off to a mysteriously wonderful start. Then the track fades out only to return with Hogg's 'La, la, la, do's" set to soft keys. A peaceful, morning in a field or on the edge of a mountain type song that is so tranquil and beautiful it makes you long for those quiet moments. There are at least two openings before the actual lyrics to the main song begin. The guitar work and almost orchestra - like support of strings gives the track incredible power. This is by far the longest track on the album and it is full of powerful moods. Hogg sings emotionally, "Our King is here with us". At over 15 minutes it is another epic highlight of the double CD set.

'Let Your Glory Fall' opens with keyboard and soaring guitar, before the drums and Hogg join in. Hogg repeats the title as she sings, "Holy Spirit come, please won't You come here?" A wonderful hymn of praise, full of pipes, acoustic and electric guitar, drums, and warm bass. The power drums and keys that take over later complete the first CD of the album full of power and emotion.


'Ruach' is a violin and keys track set to a sad melody as compared to the first CD's more upbeat tracks. The track exhibits power with the sound of the keys and violin reaching high and loud.

Uilleann pipes and Hogg's vocals open 'Speak to Me', with, "The beauty of the trees...speak to me". The pipes and acoustic guitar and bass are a wonderful accompaniment to Hogg's soft voice.

'And the Angels Dance' opens with a good pounding beat on drums, with acoustic guitar, strings, bass and Hogg singing the song title set to, "Spinning round in a blaze of color. Carried high to a realm of light". The pipes and whistles join in to provide even more flavor.

'Foreign Soil' opens with Hogg's unaccompanied solo vocal, "The silent sun highlighting the breeze - kissed autumn leaves". Then the pipes and whistles join in with the rest of the instruments and band. The acoustic guitar work is excellent and blends well with the bass and that 'soft sun' sound of autumn. The piano accents and highlights are a welcomed addition to the piece.

'Let the Waters Flow' opens strong and powerful with heavier drums, guitars and bass, supported with piano. Hogg echoes the song's title as the rhythm picks up and the emotions grow. This is a mostly instrumental track allowing the full band to display their talents throughout.

'Saviour' is another of my favorite tracks on the album. Hogg's emotional delivery of the spiritual lyrics with support of the bass, whistles, strings, guitars and keys lifts spirit's high. The excellent tranquil acoustic work is fascinating. A loud horn beckons or heralds 'The Fearless One', full of keys, guitar, drums, and strings. Then Hogg's echoing and eerie voice joins in set to soft keys, like a morning dawn, full of heavy drums, whistles and cymbals. Visions of the island of Iona drenched in fog as the soft light of morning stretches itself skyward fills your mind as you close your eyes and experience this excellent, over five minute experience of sound.

Another of my favorite tracks off CD 2 is 'White Horse'. It opens with powerful drums, strings, and keys, before Hogg joins in, "Don't look back...keep your eyes on the standard". A flute joins in to add even more dynamic sound as the drums pound like horse hooves and the keys shine bright. The percussion mix also adds to the dynamic vitality of this powerful track. The bass work is yet another highlight.

'As It Should Be', the album closer, opens again with Hogg reprising her "Iona" chant, supported with whistles, soaring keys, chimes, guitar, bass and later drums. Hogg takes us out with a beautiful reprise of "Iona of my heart. Iona of my love. As it was".
Fri, 29 July 2011
This is yet another project from one of the greatest bands recording music today in any genre. Since this is a double disc project it gets 10 tocks. ...
Review:  The Phantom Tollbooth
Fri, 29 July 2011
This is yet another project from one of the greatest bands recording music today in any genre. Since this is a double disc project it gets 10 tocks.

This album is about a number of things, but I believe it is mostly about longing, desire and fulfillment. Some have said that this release marks a new start for the band. Others have stated that it marks a return to the groups early recordings, in some aspects both are valid points. More importantly though, this is yet another project from one of the greatest bands recording music today in any genre. The current lineup for Iona consists of: Joanne Hogg on vocals, vocal loops, piano, keyboard & beer shaker, Dave Bainbridge on acoustic & electric guitars,bouzouki, piano, keyboards, autoharp & beer shakers, Frank Van Essen on drums, percussion, violins, viola, electric violin, glockenspiel, keyboard & vocals, Phil Barker on bass guitar & electric upright bass and the new kid in town, Martin Nolan on uileann pipes, low whistles, tin whistles & vocals.

Musically this album covers familiar territory, yet the band sounds fresh and vibrant as always. A mixture of progressive rock, symphonic rock and traditional celtic folk music blend together to make Iona one of the most unique groups in the world. I said that I felt some of the main themes of this project were longing, desire and fulfillment. Lyrically there is present in the songs a longing for the sense of the presence of God in the world that we live in. A desire to be more fully aware that the veil between this world and the other realm can at times be very thin. An sense of fulfillment in knowing that the creator of all things is not only aware of our daily lives and the struggles that we face but is actively involved in those lives

There are times when Another Realm reminds me of the Open Sky project, especially in the tune entitled "An Atmosphere Of Miracles." This piece is a three part suite during which Joanne sings a section in what I assume is one of the most beautiful languages on earth, Irish Gaelic. One of the refrains of the song repeats the phrase, "Our king is here with us." If we could realize this more often how much more would we strive to do the will of the King on earth as it is done in heaven. Another track on disc 1 is called "The Ancient Wells" and speaks of the places where the veil between heaven and earth is indeed thin--oh to be aware of more places like this. It is also one of those times where the band kicks loose with their trademark harmonic playing between guitar and pipes.

Disc 2 opens with an instrumental piece entitled "Ruach" the Hebrew word for among other things, Spirit. I can only look on this song as a meditation on the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. It is a calming combination of vocal loops, keyboard washes and violin playing. It is tunes like this that remind me of the power of music to bring the worshiper into the mystical presence of God. In the tune "Let The Waters Flow" we are reminded once of just what a master guitarist Dave Bainbridge actually is. I can almost see the flames running up and down the neck of his guitar. Yet his pyrotechnics are so beautifully tasteful it adds to and does not distract from this song in the least bit.

If all recordings by artists who claim to be in a relationship with the creator of all art were this good I would probably alot less cynical concerning "Christian" music. Once again Iona has shown themselves to be a band worth paying attention to. My favorite band has once again spoken to the deepest realms of my heart.
Sat, 23 July 2011
Iona peer Hubble-like further and further into the unseen and give us the sound of wonder. Some of Iona's single albums have pushed the capacity of...
Review:  The Phantom Tollbooth
Sat, 23 July 2011
Iona peer Hubble-like further and further into the unseen and give us the sound of wonder.

Some of Iona's single albums have pushed the capacity of the CD format, but even 80 minutes was too short for this batch of tracks and having two discs to spread their Celtic prog across has brought out their most chilled approach yet. This almost makes Journey into the Morn sound like their tribute to Motorhead.

You can sense the calm from the opening minute and this fits the theme. Another Realm is largely about the unseen spiritual world that touches this one. Iona gives us the sound of wonder.

Five years on from The Circling Hour the band says that this is a new start and from the listener's perspective it both is and isn't. Many of the core characteristics are there: near permanent keyboard washes, bursts of ecstatic guitar, Celtic twists, times when Frank van Essen gives up his thunderous drums for violin, Joanne Hogg's pure vocals and the obligatory fifteen-minute-long track.

But each release has its own characteristics and this could be the most overtly spiritual release they have made. Yes, they have always been about the faith that spread through the UK from the island of their name and it has coloured nearly every instrumental piece they have produced. But here there is a new intensity: less about God-related things and more about God himself; less about islands or the Atlantic and more about the cosmos; and here they peer Hubble-like further and further into the uncharted and unseen.

Even though there is pushing one hundred minutes of music here, you could probably count the loud bits on the fingers of one hand. "An Atmosphere of Miracles," which is its longest piece (albeit arguably three bits joined together) is well-served by its title - and those who think that the loud stuff is saved for the second disc might think again when the first six minutes of that ("Ruach") is little more than violin and cymbal rides with breezy synth blowing gently through it. Diametrically opposite the Paul Simons and Alex Turners of this world, who try to cram their overflowing lyrics into verses that struggle to contain them, here the lyrics have to wait until the instruments have had their say. I calculate it as a scant 2.5 lines per minute.

But the music is all the better for it, gaining an evenness that avoids the band's early tendency to create a mood in longer pieces and then blast a discordant section into it.

The first disc is a true worship album. It prayerfully yearns for God to move ("Ancient Wells") and to come close ("Let your Glory Fall"). The title track and "Clouds" both explore the otherliness of God and how it can break into our world, then the excellent and somewhat free-form "Atmosphere of Miracles" both describes a sense of the numinous, while bringing it on. It is one of Hogg's best ever performances. Her wordless vocals on this haven of ambient wonder are the most Clannad-esque thing Iona has done since Moya Brennan guested in the '90s, showing the mellow warmth in her voice. Yet at the end of the track, her rapturous proclamation that "Our King is here with us!" is possibly the most memorable part of the whole project.

The first disc alone would be a fine release, but the second makes it a banquet. After "Ruach" comes a short batch of ballads that feature Jo Hogg and have a more Celtic feel. New piper Martin Nolan gets a chance to feature on "And the Angels Dance." As often happens with jigs and reels, the studio account doesn't quite have the bounce that it does live, but this celebration is still one of the stronger tracks here.

Direct and with a tricky time-signature, "Let the Waters Flow" is another highlight in the "Woven Cord" and "Castlerigg" vein of near-instrumentals, although this may well beat the former. It leads into a final section that seems to switch to a Book of Kells sound. The arresting shofar cries (ram's horn) of "The Fearless Ones" recall its more haunting moments, while the Christology of "Saviour" and "White Horse" echo the gospel heart of that album.

At times Iona have frustrated us with a sense that a killer hook ir melody could be just around the corner, but doesn't want to show its face. Hard work and stunningly talented musicianship have often filled that gap. That criticism could be applied to this release. Sometimes the verse melodies lack dynamic and depend on a strong chorus to carry the weight ("Saviour"); at others it is an exciting burst of pipes or one of Dave Bainbridge's (too) short, emotional guitar solos that lifts a track that extra notch, as they do early on disc one.

In the past, the loud and soft have wrestled for supremacy within long pieces, or noodling has extended songs unnecessarily, but that complaint does not apply here, where they fearlessly and consistently create sweeping images of the invisible. Think of this as a sonic Dali landscape painted by Turner: inspired, evocative, and yet conveyed with a breathy mistiness.

I once described Journey into the Morn as "a sonic cathedral," but that label probably fits this release -especially the first disc - even more snugly.
Tue, 19 July 2011
For the first time Iona present us with a double studio album with over 100 minutes of new music and it is absolutely stunning. If like me you've miss...
Review:  Cross Rhythms
Tue, 19 July 2011
For the first time Iona present us with a double studio album with over 100 minutes of new music and it is absolutely stunning. If like me you've missed the Iona of the early years who mixed outstanding music with a deeper spirituality, then you'll welcome 'Another Realm'. There have been some changes so the album introduces Martin Nolan on pipes and whistles but it also seems that across the board, there's something new and invigorating about the band. It's almost as if the band have undergone a spiritual revival and it underpins everything that is here. Right from the opening cut "As It Was" with its opening refrain "Iona of my heart," there are echoes of the band's early recordings as if they have gone back to their Celtic spiritual roots and once more journeyed to the isle of Iona. Produced by Dave Bainbridge and recorded at different band members' studios in England, Ireland and the Netherlands, there is the usual huge panoramic sound we've come to associate with the band but this time it comes with a fresh warmth and richness. Not only that, the whole album is packaged up in a gatefold sleeve with the most beautiful and fully integrated cover art I've ever seen! Everything you have ever loved about the band is here - astounding, multi-layered music, the gorgeous vocals of Joanne Hogg, the pipes, whistles and violin work which adds so much character and songs that make the heart glow. From the haunting Wytze Valkema collaboration "The Fearless Ones" with its opening shofar blasts to the epic "An Atmosphere Of Miracles" and beautiful "The Ancient Wells", there isn't a single moment where this doesn't deliver. On the latter, Joanne sings, "The ancient wells will be opened again and your river will flow," and it feels like that thought sums up what has happened with 'Another Realm'. Iona have rediscovered their passion and their purpose.
Sat, 16 July 2011
Iona's latest release is a stunning two-CD set entitled Another Realm (Open Sky (UK) CD16, 2011). Provided as a gorgeous cardboard triple panel gatefo...
Review:  Review Digest
Sat, 16 July 2011
Iona's latest release is a stunning two-CD set entitled Another Realm (Open Sky (UK) CD16, 2011). Provided as a gorgeous cardboard triple panel gatefold package with a full color booklet with band photos and full lyrics, the hour and a half collection is the UK band's first studio project since The Circling Hour (2006) and seventh studio album. Although there have been a few lineup changes, Another Realm celebrates the band's 23rd year of growth since their debut self-titled album release. Iona's albums and live performances have been reviewed extensively here and were named a Musical Discoveries featured artists in 1997.

Fronted by Joanne Hogg (vocals, keyboard, piano, beer shakers), Iona's current lineup includes stalwarts Dave Bainbridge (electric and acoustic guitars, bouzouki, piano, keyboards, autoharp, beer shakers); Frank van Essen (drums, percussion, violins, violas, electric violin, vocal, gockenspiel, keyboard); Phil Barker (bass guiltar, electric upright bass; and Martin Nolan (took over after Troy Donockley's 2009 departure during the gap between the band's last release and the new project reviewed here.

Since their last studio project, Iona released a live DVD and live album of the same material. The band members have also been active in their own projects, For example, Joanne Hogg released two solo albums entitled Raphael's Journey (2008, with Frank van Essen) and Personal (2008) following her contributions to the four album New Irish Hymns series with Maire Brennan or Kristin Getty and Margaret Fletcher. Dave Bainbridge produced the second complilation in the Songs for Luca series (reviews 1 | 2) and also co-released The Breaking of the Dawn with Nick Fletcher. Another Realm brings Iona, who are geographically separated by a significant distance, back together with all new material. The band have also launched a comprehensive new website to coincide with the album's release.

Iona's music has always been centered between the three forces of progressive rock, modern Celtic tunes and lyrical Christian themes. The fifteen tracks on Another Realm that include two very long tracks turn up the intensity on Christian themes almost throughout but also continue to demonstrate the artist's individual strengths. The band's music has become more diverse with songs that include sweeping orchestral passages, brooding Enya-esque vocal lines and very robust progressive rock arrangements. However the Iona sound is never lost. Recorded material is equally split between the two CDs in the package.

The album's first track is a short and quiet ballad entitled "As It Was." The lyrics begin to speak of Iona, and it will not be the first time in this collection. The first extended track "The Ancient Walls" blends Celtic sounds with progressive rock arrangements and an accessible melody. Listen for Clannad-style vocal harmonies. While Troy Donockley will be missed, Martin Nolan proves his strength immediately in the rousing uillean pipe instrumental breaks. Joanne sings the album's lushly arranged title track precisely. Sensitively delivered verses are followed by memorable choruses.

"Clouds" is one of the album's standout tracks. Joanne's crystalline vocals glide above building arrangements. Tremendous vocal production capture the power of her voice making it glisten, contributing alongside the instrumental arrangements, significantly to the sound delivered in the song. Listeners will adore the tempo and style variety of the progressive rock arrangements--acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums and keyboards--that accompany the stunning lyrical part.

The first two movements of the fifteen minute suite "An Atmosphere of Miracles" features brooding Celtic themes, lovely vocalise and allusions to the sounds of Enya. The final portion of the track is a lovely ballad that continues to build on the Celtic theme with tender uillean pipe melodies that interplay with Joanne's vocals. The song's final instrumental break features Dave's outstanding guitar solo. Listen for the whistle part that brings the suite to its conclusion.

The first CD of the set concludes with the standout track "Let Your Glory Fall." It is a powerful progressive rock classic Iona number largely led by Dave Bainbridge's guitar work but with equal installments of Frank van Essen's robust drums and Joanne's powerful and crystalline vocals. With a run length of almost seven and a half minutes, it is a perfect way to wrap up the first half of the project.

Frank van Essen's superb violin solo carries the majority of "Ruach," a primarily instrumental track that opens the second CD in the set. Listen for the warm orchestral washes and Joanne's vocalise contributions that drift in and out of the softly arranged track. Uillean pipes and acoustic guitar provide a stunning instrumental backdrop for the everso gentle ballad featuring Joanne's most tender vocal work "Speak to Me." The quiet backing harmonies provide the perfect amount of additional texture to the arrangement.

The most accessible "And Angels Dance" is the premier of the standouts on Another Realm. Those that listen to Iona will understand best when we say it follows on naturally from the tracks on the band's Journey Into The Morn album. The track perfectly combines rock and Celtic arrangements with Joanne's lead and backing vocal. The whistle and acoustic guitar parts shine through the arrangement and contribute to the Iona sound. The Uillean pipe solo during the instrumental break is backed by Jo's superb vocalise. This track will draw a lot of attention when performed live.

In contrast, "Foreign Soil" is sung initially a capella before Jo is joined by building arrangements of acoustic guitar, viola, piano and light self-harmonies. A whistle part echoes the melody and is joined by violin before Iona's full instrumental splendour emerges within the track. The album's incredible production is evident in the outstanding vocal and drum treatment that open the first verse of "Savior." While Another Realm is oustanding in every respect, "Savior" is likely the best produced track on album. Listen to this incredible track through headphones.

The lush progressive arrangements of "Let The Waters Flow" are led by electric guitar and Uillean pipes and provide an excellent foundation for Joanne's soaring vocal parts--lead and densely layered backing vocals--in yet another album standout. Dave Bainbridge demonstrates his musical chops in the most expressive guitar solo on the album during the instrumental break.

Shofar calls--a first for Iona--open "The Fearless Ones," a powerful yet brooding instrumental / vocalise number that opens the final chapter of Another Realm. It serves in many ways as the introduction to "White Horse," a rousing progressive Celtic standout. Joanne Hogg's powerful and crystalline vocal soars above Iona's stunning arrangements with layers of harmony that provide texture only achieved in the studio. Dave's rapidfire electric guitar solo is outstanding. An integration of numerous thematic passages, the powerful and moving eleven minute track is Another Realm's "Encircling" certain to delight the band's live audiences in forthcoming tours. And as a perfect bookend, the album concludes with "As It Shall Be," with Martin Nolan's Uillean pipes and Joanne Hogg's lovely vocal parts.
Another Realm is available from the band's online store as a two-CD set and exclusively as a digital download. The album is not available at this writing from other outlets, but since distributed by Voiceprint, it likely will be more broadly seen in the coming months. Iona are a band and group of artists that go from strength to strength. This long awaited studio project provides over an hour and a half of superb music. Wait no longer. Listen to Another Realm.
Fri, 1 July 2011
No rating
ROUGH ENGLISH TRANSLATION: In his review of " The Circling Hour "begins Markwin Meeuws colleague by saying that in 2006 no longer the Iona Iona in ...
Review:  Prog Wereld
Fri, 1 July 2011

In his review of " The Circling Hour "begins Markwin Meeuws colleague by saying that in 2006 no longer the Iona Iona in 1992. A proposition with which I totally agree with. Now, five years later, I would argue that the Iona of 2011 has gone back to Iona in 1992. And in this case is not a decline decline, but a huge step forward.

Iona always takes time for an album. The album reviewed here was scheduled for release in March 2011 but it soon became the band not to go out. Instead of stress and the deadline to hold, the band made the wise decision not to be rushed and the quality priority. The band did come to the Netherlands for some concerts, but the public still had to just do without the new album. The end result is more than 90 minutes of music of exceptional quality, spread over two CDs.

As I wrote, the band with this album back to her roots. First they grab lyrically back at the past. Iona is a Christian band and this album was the first clear out the beautiful lyrics. From " Open Sky ", the general texts and I believe less and less appealing. Now there is no doubt, Iona is a group of Christians and stabbing them not to hide. Not like Neal Morse, who often stops personal experiences in his lyrics, but more an ode to the Creator and an appeal to all listeners that there is more between heaven and earth (hence the title "Another Realm" which means "another realm" means). Never pushy or preachy, but always sincere and inspiring.

Musically the band hooked with albums such as " Book of Kells "and" Beyond These Shores ". On the last album Iona had a big hand in Troy Donockley the compositions and the resignation of Donockley seemed a loss for the band. But nothing is further from the truth. The songs are all wonderful. The music has gained momentum and they know all to rush. On the last two albums were the songs Iona very nice, but they remained in one way or another remote. The music on this album is an experience that you want to experience again and again.

The balance between both discs is excellent. Often you will only double album to the first album and the second disc suffers underneath. Here is not the case. On the first disc, The Ancient Wells, Clouds and An Atmosphere Of Miracles peak. Clouds I heard for the first time when I was on the plane en route to Rome. As I looked out the most amazing cloud formations, this powerful song rang through my headphones. Throbbing bass effects pedals, a beautiful guitar and powerful drumming make this song one of my favorites Iona. I am an admirer of the drumming of Frank van Essen and that is this album just became more. What an inventive and creative drummer!

The Long An Atmosphere of Miracles was more like a contemporary hymn to describe. The first and most ambient sounds almost subdued with rolling keys and flute. The language Hogg sings in the middle of the song seems elf language from "The Lord Of The Rings", Magnificent! This is really a song you need to sit down. A song that you have undergone. The last part is a stunning climax with a guitar and Cleaving hot pipes Uileann game. Newcomer Martin Nolan is doing great and lets his predecessor Troy Donockley forgotten.

The second disc opens with Ruach. Ruach is Hebrew and translates as wind or spirit. With Ruach is often (in this issue) "the Spirit of God" meant. It is a beautiful instrumental piece with keyboards and violin. A lot to think about to fall completely. Let The Waters Flow is an uptempo song with lots of room for the guitar playing of Dave Bainbridge. Usually go the solos on guitar and Uileann Pipes equally, really typical of the music of Iona, and that gives the song something extra. Pay attention to the great throbbing bass of Phil Barker.

Prijspakker of the second CD is the epic Whitehorse. Just song is about the struggle between good and evil, and soon there will be Lord of the Rings-like thoughts to you. The band compared with the number already there and I can Encircling income. It is an impressive and moving piece with powerful vocals and amazing solos.

Iona comes with "Another Realm" very close to the classic "Book of Kells". A compelling and impressive album with every listen strengthening. Immerse yourself in the music of Iona and find reborn again. And the angels dance ...
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Interviews (1):
by Derek Walker
Fri, 9 September 2011
Iona talked to the Tollbooth about the background to their 'Writers' Pick' album, Another Realm. There are some bands that have been so seminal and successful in what they have done, that it hardl...
Interview:  The Phantom Tollbooth by Derek Walker
Fri, 9 September 2011
Iona talked to the Tollbooth about the background to their 'Writers' Pick' album, Another Realm.

There are some bands that have been so seminal and successful in what they have done, that it hardly seems possible that they could disintegrate while still remaining on good terms with each other. Yet this has been a risk for Iona, a band that has led the Christian Celtic music strand for many years and collaborated with artists such as Robert Fripp, while making mainstream commentators sit up and notice their work, and whose musicianship has been exemplary throughout.

In their pre-release blogs, the band hinted that their new collection Another Realm was also a new beginning for them. When guitarist / keyboard player/ co-founder Dave Bainbridge tells the story, it seems more like a resurrection from the dead.

"Back in 2008, two years after the release of our previous studio album The Circling Hour and with no Iona gigs planned for that year we were collectively re-assessing the band's future, whilst also taking time out to pursue other projects.

"Recording a new studio album at that time would have been very difficult in the quickly changing music industry climate, where record companies were going out of business left, right and centre and illegal downloading seemed rife. Whilst The Circling Hour album (funded by the band) was critically well received, the lack of major touring and publicity meant that it didn't do that well financially.

"In this uncertain time for the band I was playing with Frank [van Essen, drummer] at a Christian conference in Holland and a man I'd never met before prophesied an incredible word over me concerning my future and in particular the future of the band. At the time I accepted it and made sure I had a written copy to consider, but couldn't see how it could possibly come to pass with the band, as I'd almost come to the point of laying Iona down and moving on. However God, it seems, had other plans! Looking back now I can see just how accurate this prophetic word has been already and how much of an encouragement it has been too."

For singer and keyboard player Jo Hogg, the album marks a change to a new phase in her life: "The release of this album has come at the end of what seemed like a long season of struggling with a host of personal battles; grief, health issues, relational stuff and the mental and physical turmoil that comes when you go through a major shift in how you think and consequently in how you live. In many ways, I feel like I`ve changed a lot since The Circling Hour, and the spiritual journey of writing and recording Another Realm and sharing it with audiences just feels new."

Both members found their spiritual experiences over recent years gradually forming a fresh approach to the band. As 2008 progressed, Bainbridge kept the prophesy in mind until the sense of purpose developed at another conference.

"During one of the sessions the words 'Another Realm' just popped into my mind completely out of the blue as a title for the next Iona CD. I got back to my room and ideas concerning a new album just started to flow. In my notebook I wrote that it should be an album about the heavenly realm breaking through into the earthly realm - one complete work encompassing this theme; that Jo could write songs specifically based on this theme; that these songs and instrumental passages could interweave; that it would be great to feature more of Frank's real string ensemble textures and even that it should be a 2 CD album!"

Meanwhile, Hogg had been putting in some detail to this grand vision. She recalls, "While Dave had been formulating the concept and making notes on Another Realm, I was simultaneously writing songs on this theme, neither of us aware in the nature of what the other was doing."

One of the details that showed God's leading was that Bainbridge had been thinking of how the ancient wells of faith could be cleared. These were places or movements from which God had once moved powerfully, but which had become blocked by religiosity. It turned out that Hogg had actually written a song called "Ancient Wells."

Fitting a band whose resurgence was prophesied, whose album is spiritually rich and whose songs are inspired by God, the recording process naturally began in worship.

"The vocals and main keyboard part on the first two sections of the track "An Atmosphere of Miracles" came through spontaneous improvisations between myself on keys and Jo singing," Bainbridge recalls. "As we focused on God, Jo worshipped Him, singing in tongues. What is on the album is the result - recorded in one amazing take (plus subsequent overdubs). Towards the end Jo could hardly hold back the tears and you can hear the emotion in her voice. It was the same with the main vocal in part three of the track.

"Similarly some of the instrumental sections on the album came about through being in an attitude of worship. Martin's great low whistle playing at the opening of "An Atmosphere of Miracles" and the tracks "Ruach" and "The Fearless Ones" with Frank and our guest shofar player Wytze (were) again based on spontaneous improvisations after specific times of prayer."

When they had collated all the songs, they found a mass of material on the theme and several songs naturally fitted together. They knew how they wanted the bookending tracks to work and the running order almost fell into place. They only needed to add an up-tempo instrumental track to balance some slower material, which turned out to be "Let the Waters Flow."

Bainbridge tells, "I remembered a great rhythm idea in 11/8 time that Frank came up with during the week we were all together in the Netherlands several months earlier. Jo and I started jamming around that and came up with the main theme, chord sequence and vocal ideas for this track. It was later refined and then Frank re-recorded the drums and we overdubbed Martin's pipes and whistles and I think the bass parts last of all."

For those who have lost touch with the band, the name Martin might be a puzzle. With increasing demands on his time as a producer for artists like Barbara Dickson and touring with Ade Edmondson's lauded Bad Shepherds, multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley has now left Iona and Martin Nolan is his replacement.

Hogg might be pleased to have another Irish musician joining her in the band and comments that Nolan has already "become an integral part of the band as a wonderful musician and contributes a great balance of spiritual depth and humorous banter." Anyone who has seen the new line-up live will have noticed his penchant for comical quips.

She tucks away the comment about spiritual depth, but it is key to the project, as they have all experienced the personal renewal of faith she hinted at when talking of her own new way of seeing things. As well as joining the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church, which has been helpful for all her family, Bill Johnston, the pastor of Bethel Church, Redding, California, has impacted her own spiritual journey and his book title When Heaven Invades Earth has plainly informed her songwriting for this album.

Bainbridge, who has regularly quoted David Adam as a strong influence, says that his faith is currently feeding off what God actually does and has done. As well as a "fairly academic" account of the life of Columba, he comments, "I just love reading books and listening to sermons which contain testimonies of what God is doing around the world - and even better hearing these stories at first hand."

Drawing on these influences and more, the new album urges its listeners to fully engage with what God wants to do in our world and to expect more supernatural elements to surface in everyday life.

"We're not looking to a future time or the afterlife before we can experience the riches of heaven," Bainbridge insists, "but the heavenly realm and all that that entails is accessible now. Ephesians 2: v.6 says that because of the cross we are now seated with Jesus in the heavenly realm. Wow, what an incredible thought and what possibilities suddenly open up! Instead of a powerless, intellectual Christianity you suddenly have a dynamic, relational faith in which anything becomes possible, if only we have faith."

Having experienced the reaction of a secular audience to the new material, I wondered what questions the band gets at CD signings after their gigs. They claim that comments are nearly always positive, but people do not always know what (or whom) it is that they are experiencing.

Hogg summarises the questions they get as "What is it about this music and you guys that has this weird effect on me? What`s this kinda aura that you have? What was I experiencing tonight?" adding, "I love it when I get asked those questions!"

Bainbridge is not keen on the word 'secular' "as it somehow implies division rather than coming together. "What is great about Iona's music is that it has the ability to bring together people diverse in ages, nationalities and beliefs and this is something we're so thankful for.

"There is generally a great warmth in the atmosphere at our gigs and rapport between the band and the audience - probably a lot more so now than in the early days. We don't have anything to prove, we just love playing together and making that connection with whoever is listening.

"I remember a great conversation with a really tough-looking guy after one gig we did. He said he'd been to hundreds of rock concerts but there was something amazing about our gig that he'd never experienced before. I explained that I believed this to be the Holy Spirit."

So the live shows flesh out the ideas behind this release - that God wants to move supernaturally through his people, affecting all of his creation, and will work where he is allowed. As one line from the album puts it: "It is for us if we dare."

History (9):
Writing and Recording New Album / Martin Joins 2010 January After the successful gigs in the autumn, the band are pleased to announce that Martin has joined on a permanent basis and look forward to his contribu...
Recording in the Netherlands 2010 March The whole band assemble at His Master's Noise Studio in The Netherlands to continue working on the new album. In a very productive week a new song is ...
Studio Session Cancelled 2010 April The band's next studio session together in The Netherlands is cancelled due to the ash cloud coming over from Iceland! Flights to The Netherlands are ...
Recording Continues 2010 October Recording continues on the new album with sessions at Dave's and at Frank's studios. It becomes clear that there is more material than will fit onto o...
Album Sessions 2011 January Further album sessions
Pre-Album Mix 2011 February Dave does a pre-album release mix of 'Let Your Glory Fall' for the compilation album CPR4 (Christian Progressive Rock 4) which is due for release in M...
Another Realm Pre-Orders 2011 March Pre-orders for the new studio album 'Another Realm' start to be taken and the album running order is announced along with the fact that it will be the...
Netherlands Gigs / Artwork Complete 2011 April After several days rehearsals at Frank's studio the band play 3 great gigs in The Netherlands, introducing more material from the new album. The gigs ...
Album Mixing Complete 2011 May Dave completes the album mix and the album is mastered on the Scottish Isle of Skye by Denis Blackham. Four UK gigs see the band in fine form retur...
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